LET’S get ready to rumble.
With less than a week to go until State of Origin One, the battle lines have been drawns, with both Queensland and New South Wales selecting rough and tumble teams to go head-to-head for state line bragging rights.
And the boys at CrownBet.com.au simply cannot split them, with both teams opening at the $1.92 quote.
Queensland have the better of the handicap at +1.5, but that is a skinny $1.87, with the Blues docked 1.5 points at $1.97.
New Queensland winger Corey Oates is the man most likely to score the first try, rated an $8.50 chance, ahead of another debutante, Josh Mansour, at $10.
New South Wales coach Laurie Daley has swung the axe, dropping eight players from last year’s terrible 52-6 loss in the decider.
Five fresh faces, including Matt Moylan, Adam Reynolds and Mansour, will be part of the 19 man squad.
“What we will do is try and win the battle in the middle,” Daley said of his strategy for game one.
“Anyone will tell you the forwards up front they have to do the job and if they do the job, then you give yourself a chance to attack.
“Game one is predominantly a very dour sort of affair, it is a bit like a boxer coming out in round one or two and just sussing out the opponent first and then as you go into the series you open things up a little bit more.”
“I am assuming with the squad we have got, we will keep it nice and simple to start with and hopefully we will get better as the series goes on.
“The first thing we need to do is have our guys understand their roles within the team and they will be fairly simple.”
New Maroons coach Kevin Walters has a much more steady team, with only the retired Justin Hodges to be missed.
He said Origin One was crucial and his side would need to play better on ANZ Stadium.
“It is a real challenge for our guys. We have only won two games in the past five years, out of six against New South Wales at that stadium,” Walters said.
“We need to square the ledger there if we can and that’s what we will be trying to do.
“It is a typical New South Wales side, big, strong, fast, plus the advantage of playing at home.
“They have always had big sides, New South Wales.
“Certainly last year and the year before. I think they have picked a strong side.
“Laurie (Daley) has made some tough decisions on players he has moved on.
“It is a transition period for them as it could be for us in a couple of years.”
Despite being unable to split them in Origin One, the CrownBet.com.au crew has the Maroons as the odds on favourites at $1.75, with the Blues at $2.08.
Queensland 2-1 is the favourite for correct series score at $2.40, with New South Wales 2-1 at $2.60, a Maroon clean sweep at $5.50 and a Blue white wash the rank outsider at $7.
North Queensland legend Johnathan Thurston is the favourite for the Wally Lewis Medal for best player in the series at $6.50. No other player is in single figures.
2016 State of Origin Squads
NEW SOUTH WALES: Greg Bird, Boyd Cordner, Josh Dugan, Robbie Farah, Blake Ferguson, Andrew Fifita, Tyson Frizell, Paul Gallen (captain), Josh Jackson, Michael Jennings, David Klemmer, James Maloney, Josh Mansour, Josh Morris, Matt Moylan, Adam Reynolds, James Tamou, Dylan Walker, Aaron Woods
QUEENSLAND: Darius Boyd, Corey Oates, Greg Inglis, Justin O’Neill, Dane Gagai, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Matt Scott, Cameron Smith, Nate Myles, Aidan Guerra, Matt Gillett, Corey Parker, Michael Morgan, Sam Thaiday, Josh Papalii, Josh McGuire
Queensland teams fight it out for NRL minor premiership favouritism
THE NRL’s northern powerhouse pair, Brisbane and North Queensland can’t be split at the top of betting for the minor premiership.
Our friends at online bookmaker Sportsbet.com.au have them both rated a $3 chance to finish on top of the NRL ladder.
But the bookie’s Christian Jantzen said the State of Origin period could provide the Cronulla Sharks ($3.25) with a chance to increase their lead on top of the ladder and clinch their first minor premiership since 2002.
He said the Melbourne Storm continued to be the quiet achievers and have come in from $9 into $6.50 after their win over the Parramatta Eels on the weekend.
“The Broncos and Cowboys won’t have it easy during the Origin period and punters agree, with more money on the Sharks to win the minor premiership over the past fortnight than both of the Queensland teams combined,” Jantzen said.
2016 NRL minor premiership market
$3 – Brisbane Broncos
$3 – North Queensland Cowboys
$3.25 – Cronulla Sharks
$6.50 – Melbourne Storm
$23 – Canterbury Bulldogs
$151 – Canberra Raiders
$151 – Penrith Panthers
Odds provided by SportsBet.com.au
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